Killings: Conflict during the year involving the government, militias, AMISOM forces, and al-Shabaab resulted in the death and injury of civilians and caused the displacement of many others. The Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea reported clan-based political violence in the Lower Shabelle and Middle Shabelle regions involved revenge killings and attacks on civilian settlements. Clashes in Hiraan also resulted in deaths. Somaliland used military force throughout the year to suppress supporters of the self-declared Khatumo state (see section 1.a.).
In the Lower Shabelle region, according to the United Nations, conflict between Biimaal and Habar Gedir militias resulted in reports of abductions and killings every week in June and July. The monitoring group also reported that on July 27, the SNA Third Battalion, led by Liban Madahweyne, and clan militia attacked an informal IDP camp near kilometer 50. Two civilians were killed in the fighting and two others executed. The monitoring group’s report stated that rape occurred in the context of fighting in Lower Shabelle. The government established ad hoc official commissions to investigate alleged abuses by federal military forces and allied militias in the Lower Shabelle region. The outcome of the investigation was unknown.
Clashes in Hiraan and the Middle Shabelle regions resulted in deaths and displacement. For example, fighting between Hawadle and Dir clan militias in Defow, Hiraan region, resulted in deaths and casualties. On September 8, fighting between clan militias over farmland in Maandheere, Middle Shabelle region, resulted in one death and several injuries.
Clan fighting also continued in other parts of the south and central regions. For example, on May 5, fighting between clans in the Beledhawa, Gedo region, led to at least four deaths and numerous injuries after two sub clans clashed over political issues related to state formation.
Al-Shabaab continued to kill civilians. This included politically motivated killings that targeted civilians affiliated with the government and attacks on humanitarians, NGO employees, UN staff, and diplomatic missions. Al-Shabaab often used suicide attacks, mortar attacks, and improvised explosive devices. It also killed prominent peace activists, community leaders, clan elders, and their family members for their roles in peace building, and it beheaded persons accused of spying for and collaborating with Somali national forces and affiliated militias.
Al-Shabaab attacks included, but were not limited to, a February 13 attack on a UN convoy outside Mogadishu International Airport that killed at least seven persons; attacks on February 21 and July 8 on the Villa Somalia presidential compound that killed dozens; a May 12 vehicle-borne improvised explosive device attack in Baidoa, Bay region, that killed at least 19 persons; a May 24 attack on parliament that killed at least 10 civilians; and an August 4 suicide attack that killed Puntland’s Bari region police commander in Bosaso.
Fighting between al-Shabaab and AMISOM and Somali forces resulted in civilian deaths. For example, on April 14, a mortar shell killed two children. The monitoring group stated, “There were frequent incidents in which disproportionate use of force by AMISOM in reaction to unexpected assaults on personnel and convoys resulted in killing and injury to civilians.”
Abductions: Somali civilians and other foreign nationals were abducted, and at year’s end several of them remained captive. Al-Shabaab continued to abduct persons (also see section 1.b.).
Al-Shabaab abducted humanitarian workers. In one case reported on January 16, al-Shabaab abducted Muhyadin Taruri, a doctor working for the World Health Organization in Wajid town, Bakol region.
During an April 11 security operation, AMISOM and IJA forces rescued two Kenyan nationals, James Kiarie Gichoi and Daniel Njuguna Wanyoke, whom al-Shabaab kidnapped in 2011 while they were working for Care International and Doctors without Borders, respectively.
On May 30, AMISOM and IJA forces also rescued nearly 30 khat traders, mostly women, kidnapped by al-Shabaab in Kismayo, Lower Juba region, after they refused to pay extortion money.
Physical Abuse, Punishment, and Torture: Government forces, allied militias, men wearing uniforms, and AMISOM troops committed sexual violence, including rape of IDPs in and around Mogadishu. Al-Shabaab also committed sexual violence, including in relation to forced marriage.
A September 8 Human Rights Watch report documented 24 cases of sexual exploitation and abuse by Ugandan and Burundian AMISOM personnel. In five of the cases the victims were under age 18. Cases include those in which women reportedly were asked for sex in exchange for money, enticed from an IDP camp, raped while seeking medical assistance or water, and raped and then given food or money.
There were several casualties involving land mines and other unexploded ordnance. Landmine incidents were prevalent in the central region. For example, on August 26, two children suffered life-threatening injuries from a land mine in Galguduud.
Child Soldiers: During the year there were continued reports of the SNA and allied militia, Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama’a (ASWJ), and al-Shabaab using child soldiers.
Implementation of the government’s action plan with the United Nations to end the recruitment and use of children by the national army remained limited, although the federal government made additional progress. On February 13, the federal government signed standard operating procedures for the reception and handover of children separated from armed groups. During the year Chief of Defense Forces General Elmi nominated six members to the newly created Child Protection Unit. In June and July, the unit completed a joint monitoring and assessment mission to the Jazeera camp to inspect for children.
Reports indicated that some authorities handed over children separated from armed groups to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), notably in the Baidoa region. There continued to be reports that the government detained children allegedly associated with al-Shabaab in Mogadishu. As part of a visit to the country in August, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict Leila Zerrougui visited the Serendi rehabilitation center in Mogadishu. She expressed concerns that the process and criteria under which children were sent to the center were not transparent. She also noted that it was not possible to challenge the decision to send individuals to the facility, depriving them of their liberty for months and sometimes years.
In view of the absence of established birth registration systems, it was often difficult to determine the exact age of national security force recruits. The European Union Training Mission provided refresher training to approximately 500 Somali soldiers at the Jazeera Training Camp in Mogadishu, where they underwent interviews and screening. These screenings identified no recruits as children.
The national army lacked a sufficient number of military barracks to house all its soldiers. Soldiers often lived in their own homes with their families. In past years Mogadishu military “camps” were not clearly defined or demarcated and did not prevent family members from entering the camps. In late 2013 and during the year, the federal government cleared all families and children from the Jazeera camp, Villa Baidoa logistics camps, and Gashendeega Ministry of Defense premises.
According to a 2012 Human Rights Watch report, children in al-Shabaab training camps were subjected to grueling physical training, inadequate diet, weapons training, physical punishment, and religious training. The training also included witnessing the punishment and execution of other children. Al-Shabaab used children in combat, including by placing them in front of other fighters to serve as human shields and as suicide bombers. Additionally, al-Shabaab used children in support roles, such as carrying ammunition, water, and food; removing injured and dead militants; gathering intelligence; and serving as guards. According to the United Nations, al-Shabaab recruited children as young as eight from schools and madrassas. The organization sometimes used children to plant roadside bombs and other explosive devices. The Somali press frequently carried accounts of al-Shabaab indoctrinating children at schools and forcibly recruiting students into their ranks.
Other Conflict-related Abuses: Armed groups, particularly al-Shabaab, but also government forces and militia, deliberately restricted the passage of relief supplies and other items indispensable to the survival of the civilian population or humanitarian organizations, particularly in the southern and central regions.
There was small-scale diversion of World Food Program wet food commodities, with suspected government involvement.
There were multiple reports that humanitarian access to the contested territories of Sool and Sanaag, between Somaliland and Puntland, was restricted. NGOs reported incidents of harassment from local authorities in both Somaliland and Puntland.
Al-Shabaab blocked critical transportation routes to prevent the delivery of humanitarian assistance to areas liberated by AMISOM in the southern and central regions. For example, on March 20, al-Shabaab erected checkpoints to restrict movement in or out of Huddur, the capital of Bakool region, shortly after joint AMISOM and SNA forces liberated it. The restricted movements resulted in an increase in food prices.
The monitoring group reported that al-Shabaab severely restricted medical care, including by restricting travel to other areas for medical care, destroying medication provided by humanitarian agencies, and, prior to the March AMISOM and SNA offensive, closing medical clinics. It also noted an April report that AMISOM personnel occupied a health facility and the SNA occupied a primary and secondary school in Warsheik, Middle Shabelle region, although some services still managed to operate.
In prior years most international aid organizations evacuated their staff or halted food distribution and other aid-related activities in al-Shabaab-controlled areas due to killings, extortion, threats, harassment, expulsions, and prohibition by al-Shabaab. International aid agencies increasingly relied on Somali staff and local organizations to deliver relief assistance in these areas.
As a result of fighting between al-Shabaab, AMISOM, and the SNA, al-Shabaab’s humanitarian access restrictions, taxation on livestock, failed water redistribution schemes, and insecurity, many residents in al-Shabaab-controlled areas fled their homes for refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia and IDP camps in other areas of the country.